A federal judge accepted Binance founder Changpang “CZ” Zhao’s guilty plea to money laundering, but hasn’t decided if he can leave the United States before his February sentencing date.
In a Dec. 6 filing to a Seattle District Court, Judge Richard Jones said he accepted Zhao’s guilty plea to one count of Bank Secrecy Act violations, which the Binance founder submitted over two weeks ago on Nov. 21 alongside his exchange’s $4.3 billion settlement with the U.S.
Part of the settlement deal saw Zhao step down as CEO of Binance and pay $150 million to regulators.
“This Court, having considered the Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge, to which there has no timely objection […] accepts the plea of guilty,” Judge Jones wrote. “The defendant is adjudged guilty of such offense.
Zhao is set to be sentenced on Feb. 23 next year and faces up to 18 months in prison. He’s currently released on a $175 million bond, which would allow him to return to the United Arab Emirates where he resides.
Federal prosecutors have objected to allowing Zhao to leave the U.S. saying they “would not be able to secure his return” if he decided not to come back, as the UAE has no extradition treaty and Zhao could live there indefinitely on his wealth.
Related: Binance is now ‘totally different’: Interview with CEO Richard Teng
“He has three young children and a partner in the UAE; once in the UAE and faced with the prospect of traveling back to the United States to face up to 18 months in prison, he may elect to instead simply stay in the UAE with his family,” prosecutors said.
Magazine: Slumdog billionaire 2 — ‘Top 10… brings no satisfaction’ says Polygon’s Sandeep Nailwal